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For people as me that develop on the web using a lot HTML, CSS and JavaScript usually desktop applications don’t appear cool. Ok, short and direct, and we know we are right, but we also know that desktop applications are still necessaries. Just think at Photoshop and at making some heavy operation such as filtering, applying effects, etc. You need the power of your computer, at least if you wanna be fast and productive. And also if you can still use a web application for tasks like the ones photoshops allows to do (see photoshop express), you should be a bit crazy to use it if working on computer graphics. So maybe we was wrong. Photoshop is a great application, and lot of people like it, but still in my mind I’ve this disturbing sentence that repeat

I know we need desktop application, but Web ones are the coolest ever, no?

We couldn’t say something similar before the birth of Ajax, but now we can! We can give a great user experience to people visiting our site, we can make shining effects, and come on, how many times did you click your right button of a page expecting a flash menu, but you found that those amazing effects was build in JavaScript! Then we have XHTML to give a structure to our pages and we can use CSS to change it in all the possible ways, for all the possible devices. You can moreover take advantage from the usability knowledge that grow day after day on web topics, to let all people to see your applications.

So Yes, I’m even more confident about the fact that XHTML, CSS and JavaScript are cool and that they are just the best. But then my mind (a sick one of course) start to think again.

Why, if the web is so nice and so cool, we still use desktop application?

In the beginning we was taking as example Photoshop, but there are lots of other desktop applications that we use, even me, much more smaller. Just think at the phenomena of the moment, think at Twitter. It made a revolution about the way we do blogging. Probably you are thinking at why I’m speaking about Twitter when speaking about desktop application. Yes, it is a web application, and if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be so popular, but let’s listen to this. Twitter gives to developers a great RESTful API that allows third parts application to access to some information. Now you got it I guess. The point is that everyday in my feed I can see new desktop applications that you can use from your computer to modify your status, to follow your friends, and so on (some of them are Twitterrific and Twitterbox but there are lots more). They are just popular.

Yes, I said a desktop application. Sometimes they are just better, as in this case. I say this because sometimes we don’t wanna open a web page, put the address, make a login (maybe) and look at the results. It’s a long way to follow sometimes, so having your desktop application, you can just click to your menu icon and you open it. All the functionality ready for you, now! Probably this is the best quality of desktop application: they are fast!

But my mind still work saying that I’ll never be back to build desktop applications also if sometimes gives you advantages. It’s not something personal, but desktop applications right now sound old style and not cool at all. They don’t take my attention, my interest! I remember when I was in the High School and I was programming in Delphi (I still can’t understand how they could teach me it), making my first splash screen, my fist connection to a database, and so on. It was nice experience, but it was… well, 7 years ago, 7!

Still a doubt, a deep one. If we don’t build a desktop application, probably we will loose some clients ,or even worse we will not give the user experience we would like. And we love make people happy, do we?. We love HTML, CSS and JavaScript, together with Flash ad FLEX, right? So why don’t use them to build desktop application! You think I’m crazy, you think this is a dream… how can we do this?

The answer is Adobe AIR together with Google Gears.

Stay tuned and be ready to the second part, where we will go more in deep with Adobe AIR and Google Gears. For the impatients ones, you can take a look to a fresh free book released from Adobe introducing this new tecnology to Javascript programmers. I let also this funny video, a parody that tells us why we shouldn’t install applications on our computers (some parts are in italian, but Im sure you will like it anyhow).

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One Comment

  1. “The answer is Adobe AIR together with Google Gears.”

    Wow, that makes me freekin excited for part2 :)


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